The thermoplastic (outdated polyethylene, abbreviation PE) was discovered as early as 1898, but has only been used commercially in large quantities since 1957, primarily in pipelines for gas and water supply, for cable insulation and in packaging materials. It is a saturated hydrocarbon. At around 30%, PE is the most widely produced plastic in the world. In addition to pure PE, there are the materials PE-LD, PE-LLD, PE-HD, PE-UHMW and PE-X in combination with other materials. PE becomes brittle when exposed to sunlight, but is not degraded by bacteria, animals or plants. It therefore contributes greatly to environmental pollution as "plastic waste" if not disposed of properly.
In viticulture, PE films are used, among other things, as a sealing material in many alternative closures such as screw caps, crown caps and corks, as well as for capsules and bag-in-boxes. The polyester plastic PET (polyethylene terephthalate) is used for the production of bottles (PET bottles), films and textile fibres. From the 1990s onwards, wines of a simpler cut were also bottled in PET bottles. Since the EU wine market regulation that came into force in 2009, its use is now also permitted for quality wines. See other plastics under GRP, PET, PVC and PVDC.
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